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Walnut Creek Magazine

Monterey Bay's Hidden Gem: Sanctuary Beach Resort

Aug 31, 2017 04:16PM ● By Fran Miller


Travelers to the Monterey Peninsula tend to head straight toward Cannery Row and the more obvious hotel choices along the bay. But to bypass the tiny town of Marina along Highway 1 is to miss one of the most charming hotels in the area. Sanctuary Beach Resort lies just beyond the bay-facing sand dunes, eight miles north of Monterey on the protected Marina Dunes Preserve, and has long been a favorite vacation spot for the regulars who book months in advance to assure access to their little slice of heaven. But the arrival of a hip new on-site restaurant is about to blow the cover of this hidden resort gem that boasts rooms and suites literally on or quite near the shoreline’s sandy beach. No other hotel in the area offers such proximity to panoramic sunset views and calming sounds of nearby surf.


The resort itself is worthy of a visit, but the recent opening of on-site Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette, led by charismatic executive chef David Baron, makes the property even more estimable. Baron was most previously the executive chef at esteemed Casanova in Carmel and has worked at a number of San Francisco’s leading restaurants, such as at Coi under chef Daniel Patterson and at Dominique Crenn’s Atelier Crenn, where he was chef de cuisine. Baron worked with design team Farouki Farouki to craft his dream kitchen and restaurant; Salt Wood boasts a quintessentially coastal California aesthetic. A palette of greens, greys, and indigo blues combines with oxidized metal, slate, and a reclaimed oak and polished concrete floor in the varied dining areas. A live-fire kitchen serves as the heart of the space, and the welcoming and convivial bar is the perfect spot at which to enjoy custom craft cocktails.

Though Salt Wood is poised to become a favorite of both locals and tourists alike and will surely draw from both Carmel and Monterey, it is best enjoyed as a guest of Sanctuary Beach, where you can stroll from your suite to the restaurant and back. And though there is much to do in the immediate area of the resort, one need do nothing more than relax and let Sanctuary Beach work its magic. Here’s how to get the most out of your Sanctuary Beach weekend:

Start the day with a hand packed Breakfast Basket, delivered to your room for enjoyment on your patio, in bed, or on the beach. Whether sunny or foggy, spend the morning strolling the sand. Schedule a massage or a facial at the resort’s on-site spa. In the afternoon, join other guests in the lobby for complimentary local wines and cheeses. Afterward, head to dinner at Salt Wood and feast on Chef Baron’s locally sourced cuisine. The restaurant’s ever-changing menu focuses on raw, cured, and wood-fired dishes, with a focus on seafood, such as whole grilled fish for two, a traditional seafood platter, or handmade pasta with confit duck leg, black truffle, and wild mushrooms. The marquee oyster bar features both wood-fired oysters with toppings like kimchi butter, sweet sausage and scallions and raw oysters served with toppings like Bloody Mary tomato, celery mignonette, and fresh horseradish.

After dinner, head back to the beach for the nightly bonfire. Grab your gourmet s’mores package from your in-room mini bar, and roast the night away. Back at your room, unwind with the resort’s In-Room Relaxation Package, a curated collection of calm-inducing items such as L’Occitane’s Lavender ‘sleep well’ kit, Hugo Sea Salt Scrub, a lavender reed diffuser, eye pillow, artisanal teas, and chocolates. Then slumber, wake, and repeat.

Sanctuary Beach Resort and Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette: 3295 Dunes Dr., Marina

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